A change is gonna Mumm?

Posted: May 19, 2014

TOM LOOMIS has been strumming in the Woodland String Band for a couple of decades now, so don't bother questioning his loyalty to the Mummers.

But Loomis, the president of the String Band Association, is also a realist.

Like just about anything else in life, the 114-year-old New Year's Day parade needs to evolve if it wants to endure.

With that in mind, Loomis and other Mummers leaders are planning to meet with city officials next week to discuss the possibility of changing the parade route, which winds its way up Broad Street, from Oregon Avenue in South Philly to a judging stand near City Hall.

"The whole objective is to make sure the parade is fresh, and that we're giving spectators something they want to come out and see," Loomis told the Daily News yesterday.

The discussions were supposed to have been private. But in keeping with the times, some Mummers posted details on Facebook earlier this week about a proposal that calls for performers to march north on Broad, from Washington Avenue to City Hall, then head south on Broad before veering east to 2nd Street.

That route would cut out South Philly, where crowds were sparse this year - and where the number of string-band performance spots have dwindled in recent years.

"It's kind of upsetting that people put that out there, because nothing is concrete yet," Loomis said.

"We've been having internal discussions for the last couple of months about whether we're on the right track, but we haven't had a chance to even talk to the city."

Loomis acknowledged that spectators seem to now gather in larger numbers in Center City.

He said he wonders if too much time is being devoted to dragging around the string bands' elaborate props and set pieces. "We have to give people a good product, paradewise," Loomis said.

City Councilman Mark Squilla said his office fielded phone calls yesterday from a handful of riled-up residents who assumed the city was forcing the route change on the Mummers.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, the city isn't trying to change anything,' " said Squilla, a longtime Fancy Brigade member. "We'll just have to see what happens. This idea sounds like it might still be in its infancy."

On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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